Qalandiya checkpoint to Augusta Victoria Hospital
Every week I drive from the Qalandiya checkpoint to Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives. I'm in my little Toyota, with Ranin and her mother in the back. We pass the square next to the checkpoint and set off on a well-paved asphalt road – one or two, three or even four lanes. The road is open and well-protected.
All along the ten-kilometer stretch of road – a wall. The separation wall, or the separation fence, or the security fence, or the separation barrier, or the apartheid wall, or jader, or the Israeli barrier of the West Bank. The term used depends on the speaker. As they say today "it depends on your positioning".
The beginning of the route is next to a very high concrete wall, made of slabs of concrete one meter wide and maybe five meters high. They stand adjacent to each other, forming a barrier, an opaque wall, a high wall, heavy, threatening. It seems that this monster does not meet the required needs so they have added spiky and dense razor wire, whose barbs wound the sky.
Further down the road, the wall is replaced by a fence made of sheets of galvanized tin, soldered to each other. Very reminiscent of fencing around a construction site. Along this friendly fence you travel a few kilometers, and if you lift your head from the road for a moment, you can see fragments of sky ... and breathe.
The tin fence is being improved and replaced with a fence, at least 3 meters high, made with a strong metal mesh stretched between the sheets, more like a cage or a corral. Dense coils of barbed wire are also fastened to the top of the cage.
Along the roads connecting the different neighborhoods the wall demonstrates diverse variations.
For example, there are huge concrete slabs, in which each pair has a particular design. Some shapes in concrete take the form of a dome or a mountain, an imitation of the mountainous landscape outside, of what is beyond the wall. Sometimes this dome is painted in colors that match the landscape: brown, beige, green, in the hope that the passing travelers will obtain the feeling that they are a part of the scenery, not noticing that they are journeying in the shadow of a high wall that is no less than an ugly scar.
In front of Israeli settlements, the wall is more decorative. The contractor has invested more here. Rectangular stones are inlaid on the wall like ceramics, in different shades and style and in a defined sequence so that a repeated design is created. Like in bathrooms. Decoration. What beauty.
Or a concrete wall with beige plaster, it is really something. Mexican style, Wild West, so cool. The color fits perfectly with the beige, gray houses, crammed together, that have sprung up in settlements beyond the wall.
Some of the builders of the wall adorned it with wild and natural stones as if it were a supporting wall, an innocuous mountain, or a wall separating a school yard from the street, something natural, friendly, blending in with the surrounding mountainous landscape, like a terrace, something authentic.
Here and there, in between locations that have not been hermetically closed, there are spirals of barbed wire, bundles, layers – layers that fill in spaces and gaps between the huge and magnificent walls and unravel on the ground.
And so, week by week, we – Ranim, her mother and I – drive down the road with a great sense of calm and complete security. Isn't that wonderful? Our mouths are filled with songs and our lips are thankful for all this goodness.